Monday, October 31, 2016

Dua Lipa - Blow Your Mind (Mwah)

Another artist that doesn't get enough representation in the United States. I heard this song over the weekend on my "Gay Party Radio" on Pandora. I don't know if she identifies as a lesbian and that doesn't matter because this song is dope. It's reminiscent of Charli XCX and I love it. The video is so full of amazing visuals and the women in the video are all beautiful. Hands down one of the coolest videos I've seen in a while.

Tronicbox - Into You (Ariana Grande Dangerous 80s mix)


Taking modern day pop songs and rolling them back into the 80s is genius and producer TronicBox is making my dreams come true. I adore Ariana. I adore the 80s and this is magic. He's taken a song that's already sexy and got some spunk and made something totally new. It's now sultry and steamy without being dirty. There is more of a want and a desire in her voice with the tempo slowed down and taken back to a time before Ms. Grande was even born. I can't wait to hear what else he has on tap for us because it's going to be amazing. Simply amazing.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Raja Kumari - Believe in You

If you don't see yourself reflected in pop culture, sometimes you just have to make a place for yourself. If you are your own true authentic self, it is very possible that you will inspire an entire generation and I think that's what Raja Kumari is going to do. Born in Southern California, this first generation American Indian woman is changing the hip hop game. With a lyrical style unlike any we've heard in the industry so far, Raja is mixing her classical Indian dance and her heritage and culture with hip-hop in a genre she's dubbed 'Bollyhood'. It's exciting to see her passion shine through in everything she does and with talent as great as her own, it stands to reason that she's going to be a game changer.  Her frist EP, The Come Up, is set to debut on November 14, 2016 and I can't wait to hear it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Little Mix - Shout Out to My Ex

20 million views in 5 days. I would like to know how many of those came from the United States. I guess I should be happy they are opening for Ariana Grande this fall so the rest of the country can see how amazing they are and that Perrie is far more than Zayn's ex. It hurts me to type that but maybe it's how they are viewed here. So take a listen to the song, watch the video and be mesmerized by Little Mix. They are gorgeous in this video and it's an uplifting breakup anthem instead of just wallowing in misery.

Bright Light Bright Light - Cemetery of Two Hearts (Hallowe'en Mixtape)

You know I don't review mix tapes often and I generally don't go in on holiday themes but this one is AMAZING.  Bright Light Bright Light has released his Halloween mixtape, cleverly named Cemetery of Two Hearts (thusly named after his single, Symmetry of Two Hearts) and it is good. It's amazingly good. As if I didn't expect anything but from him. 

IT HAS "ROCK UNTIL YOU DROP" FROM THE MONSTER SQUAD. I repeat, he has included a song from The Monster Squad.  David Bowie, Kate Bush, Tori Amos are all here. "Shake Senora" from Beetlejuice.  He's just going out with tracks from all his favorite Halloween type movies.

And can we talk about his cover of "Touch Me" made famous by Cathy Dennis!!!! Rod knows exactly what he's doing and he knows how to properly leverage his platform. This cover is GORGEOUS. It's as if it was written for him specifically. And it is good. It is so good.

This is just a fun mixtape that will make you so stinking happy.

Highway Superstar - Splash

The latest venture into the mega rad world of Retro-New Wave by Israeli producer Highway Superstar is here and it's funky and it's cool and I am always amazed at how modern day producers can put themselves in the frame of mind it takes to make a song sound over 30 years old. This would fit so well in any 80s movie as a backing track to any scene; particularly a driving sequence along the Pacific Coast Highway with the ocean off to the side. I love the instrumental tracks. I think they're awesome. But I love them more when they have vocals. I hope he collaborates with Dana Jean Phoenix very soon.

Eli Lieb - Make Me (Britney Spears Cover)

Criminally Underrated. Eli Lieb needs to be a mega star. His voice is gorgeous. His arrangements, while staying true to the roots of the song, are perfect. He's got matinee idol good looks and he's one of the most sincere artists I've ever had the pleasure of following. He makes all the right choices with this cover of Britney's "Make Me", especially leaving out the horrible rap by G-Eazy. I want to see amazing things for Eli because he's a really cool guy.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Equal - Postcards feat. Sam Island (The Knocks Remix)

Just an easy remix. It's got an amazing flow. It makes you slide from side to side. It's fun and funky and stands up hella well to The Knocks seal of approval. They kill it in everything they do. And I'm glad to hear this remix. It's fresh and gives the song a new sound and face. Give it a listen and let me know what you think.

Little Mix - Shout Out to My Ex

30 seconds of Perrie singing is enough to brighten any day. It's not every day that a preview of a track can blow my skirt up, but it's not every day the Little Mix releases a preview! You know I adore these women. They are incredible and this song is gonna be so freaking cool.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Roger Jaeger - Start Over

I am in love. The voice. The sitar. THE SITAR. He plays the sitar in modern American music. I can not right now. I am awash with so much amazement especially trying to figure out why he's not a megastar. Forget Gavin Degraw, move over Jason Mraz. There is a new sheriff in town. Roger Jaeger is a Nashville based singer-songwriter and I am so glad that I stumbled across him.

His voice is the voice I want to hear in pop music right now. The timbre, the intensity, the quality of it is exactly what I need. This song is so good and it's criminal that it only has 3k views on youtube. He's singing about a universal feeling that we have all have felt at one point in our lives or another. We have made a decision or series of decisions and we want to do them over. We want a universal mulligan but only we want the knowledge of what came from the decision help guide our hand. And while there is a broad sweeping general appeal to this, we can't have it. We can't get our cosmic do-over and we live with the consequences of what we've done. For better or worse.

To have those ideals and thoughts represented in as beautiful of a manner that Roger has done here is a gift. The use of the sitar is inspired. It gives the song such an ethereal quality and elevates it to a new level. I love instruments that aren't typically used in pop music to have a place in the world. I love hearing how they add a whole new dimension to a song and it makes me write with a fever that is amazing and awe inspired.

I will be talking about Roger more in the future and will get in on his album so I can have more of his work in my life.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Alex Clare - Gotta Get Up

A little less EDM and a little more soul. Swagger drenched vocals have become Alex's trademark sound and he's doing amazing on this track. "I'm pushing square pegs in round holes" he says with an authority and determination that doesn't come around often. There's nothing that he doesn't throw himself into heart and soul and this song is no different. The chorus soars and the bass line and percussion just drive this song forward with a driven purpose.  If this is what we can expect off his new album, a new Alex Clare may be around the corner and it's certainly one that I want to hang out with. 

The Griswolds - High Times For Low Lives

The Griswolds are one of my favorite indie pop groups out there. I've seen them twice. Once with Walk the Moon and the other with Magic Man. They excel at stringing real life in their synth. The music they make has some mileage on it. It's been through some stuff but still comes out the other side with a little more than it started with. This is no different. It's a bit moody and a bit ragged around the edges and yeah, maybe it's seen some better days but it's gonna get through. This track is off their new album coming out soon and it's going be pretty amazing if it's following their current trajectory.

Graingerboy - Enemy Forward

Graingerboy has a way about him that is easy with a twinge of sadness. His voice is one of my favorite male voices in the industry and I just get swept up in him. His spin on pop music is much different than most artists out there right now. It's a bit darker. It's got a languid sensibility that translates into an effortless sense of creation. From the production to the way he just floats above the tracks, you get the idea that this comes easily to him but when you dig into the tracks; they are much deeper. They are much more layered and complex than you give them credit for. You hear how the little nuances and subtle quirks that sound potentially accidental are structured and placed with the deft precision of a songwriter that's been doing this for years.

What you don't know about Mr. Grainger, is that he suffers from a condition commonly known as M.E. or Myalgic Encephalopathy. This is a condition in which he deals with a host of symptoms not limited to debilitating fatigue, painful muscles and joints, disordered sleep, gastric disturbances, poor memory and concentration. This causes social issues. Issues with employment and overall quality of life. So while battling this, he still looked into himself and found the creativity to make this album. I have a feeling that music, however, is like breathing and/or oxygen for him. He can't do without it and it's apparent in the overall crafting of this album. But he is more than a diagnosis. He isn't a poster boy for cause. He's a man that's navigating his life the best way he can with what he's been given.

With it's "La, La, La's" and it's effective use of sound effects and synth mixed with live instrumentation - this is a fun quirky song that kicks off the album and sets the over all tone. It's offbeat sense of direction and self helps bring you in and makes you go... ok, I get it.
I simply adore this song. I wrote a feature on it and I think that months later it still sounds amazing. It's going to sound amazing years from now too. It's just this syrupy mixture of small breathless moments and his voice is so amazing on this. It literally makes me swoon.
The Difficult Lies of Us
Starting with a stutter of electro and the slow delivery of the opening verse makes this song an absolute stand out. When the pre-chorus kicks and the bass line gets a little heavier and thuddier it takes the song up a notch. When your expectations are high and you get let down and people just don't understand where things are in your life and they want you to keep up appearances, there are times in which you just fake it to make it. The human condition is a difficult thing to navigate when you're dealing with fallible people and mistakes and lies and other humans. You've got people that want you to be happy when you know it's not so soldier on - until you just can't anymore.

In the States we call them sneakers or gym shoes but they're trainers in the UK. He says, "You need trainers like you need new shoes. And I need new shoes like I'm needing you." Longing. Desire. Unrequited emotion. Feeling like you're not important. Feeling as if a pair of shoes is more important than your contribution to the relationship. Being relegated to something less than is a feeling that we've all experienced in our lives and it sucks and it's not cool but we have to reconcile it within our own existence or it will fester and destroy us from inside out.

Enemy Forward  
With an almost staccato verse juxtaposed against a melodic chorus, this track is full of surprises. The verses are almost rap like and each word is punctuated with brilliance. I would love to hear a remix of this that focuses on that rap like quality that brings it even more forward. The synth is gorgeous in this song. It's simple and it's got a tinny feel to it that is nostalgic to the bossanova or other prerecorded demo tracks on your first keyboard. To me this track is about picking your battles. It's deciding what's worth your time and where you need to place your energy. Sometimes you just have to walk away from a situation and use that energy to steel yourself against what's coming ahead.

Change. It happens. We can't prevent it. It's part of our existence. It comes and it goes and we can flow with it or fight it but in the end it's inevitable. This song hurts me to listen to because of how close it hits to home. I am plagued, every single day of my life, with sometimes crippling self doubt. I am terrified of change. It fills me with dread and I just can't deal with it. Writing this, this very moment that my fingers are flying across the keys - my eyes have welled up because of how very honest this song is.

"What if I crumble.
What if I fall on my knees.
What if I breakdown, forget to breathe.
What if I fail this.
What if I don't understand, will I still be shadow man"

There hasn't been a more honest representation of how I feel every day. But there is another conversation happening in this song that says, it's ok. You can do all of those things but you will make it. You will survive. One day, it will be a brighter day. Things will work out.  I had to stop writing this for a minute so I could breathe. I had to get back on track as this song just destroyed me. Now, do not get me wrong, when you actually start to hear what the artist is saying and not just take a cursory listen for the aesthetics of a song; you are going to have a reaction and it's beautiful and it's good and it's what music is supposed to do. So I am grateful that he elicited this reaction from me. It helps me look at my life and realize that with patience and understanding and a will to be; I can be more than my own shadow man.

The Deliberate Inbetween 
I needed this song to be a palate cleanser. I needed it to just let me breathe and exist and it did. It was brilliant of him to place this song after "Shadowformerself" because it does give you the space you need to process what had just happened and you're not experiencing sensory overload. Well played, sir. Well played.

Coming back with a vengeance is his ode to the bourgeoisie. But it may be an anthem about the things you fill your head with to block out all the other static and noise. We have the dreams and we have the wants but when the sometimes stark reality reminds us that we won't have the house in Malibu we retreat into our own head and live where the beautiful people are.

This is the culmination of the journey. This is the decompression at the end. The light at the end. It's looking back at what we've done and where we've been and realizing that everything is fine. It's been a journey and it's been hard at times but with the sense of accomplishment that comes when we overcome our doubt and our fears; we can do this. We can be better than we were.

While the album may have an overall mournful quality to it, what we have to remember and pull from this is that if we encounter a situation that doesn't work out in our favor, sometimes the best thing we can do is pick ourselves up, dust off and move forward. It's not that easy sometimes, especially when we feel like we're fighting the fight on our own. But through resilience and perseverance, we can put one foot in front of the other and make our lives a little better a day at a time. I think hope is the overall takeaway from this album. It's the feeling of that long exhale when you've conquered your fear or when you have beaten the anxiety back. It's the relief that comes when you examine what you have put out in the world and despite all that has rallied against us, we know that we have put our absolute best out in the universe and we aren't going to lay down and quit.

Enemy Forward is out today. You can get it at all your favorite online music distribution places. Go buy it. Listen to it and hear where he's been the past two years and see that with hope we can do all the things. Music always doesn't have to be sunshine and rainbows because in between those things is rain. And thunder. And lightning. And it does disturb your calm and it makes you hesitant but when the sun does come back out, so does the rainbow. So we need both in our lives to achieve balance. And when an artist is able to show you both sides of the coin, take it. Use it. Have a cry. Get angry. But learn. Grow. Be organic and never stop.  Graingerboy hasn't and he's got no plans on it anytime soon.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Karaoke Superstar - Will Stone

Karaoke is a funny thing. It's something that most people don't look at as a serious art form at all. It's fanciful flights of alcohol fueled ridiculousness most of the time. It's the girls night out with Gretchen Wilson. It's loud, obnoxious frat dudes doing Chumbawamba. It's the tone deaf local that sings classic rock songs because it reminds him of his glory days. What ever it is, it's something we have all either done or have seen done, badly. But what happens when it's not bad? What happens when the person singing is actually good and doesn't trample all over the song like the bulls in Pamplona? Well you get a new segment we are going to be doing here called Karaoke Superstar. I want your submissions. I want you to tell me where the best karaoke singer you've heard is at. I want to showcase local talent and get some names and faces out there so that the people that need to take advantage of this superstars are.

So let's get down to it. The first entrant into my Karaoke Hall of Fame is a local singer here in Owensboro, KY that goes by the name Will Stone. I don't know much about Will. I know that he does a lot with our local community theater group, Back Alley Musicals and that he has the charm and stage presence of a mastermind. He was most recently seen as Burt in the Back Alley production of Mary Poppins and he absolutely destroyed the roll. He's got a smile that lights up the room and when he's on stage singing he gives it his all. He doesn't just drunkenly ramble through a song, he actually sings the song as if it is his own and he's performing to a packed house.  His voice is amazing as you can see in his performances of "That's Life" in the style of Michael Buble or "Valerie" as made famous by Amy Winehouse.  Now, don't expect this to be some cheesy ass Glee type of rendition of these songs. These are songs that he loves and he enjoys doing. It is apparent as he plays with the audience and he makes these songs his own. He's got knowledge of timing and breath control and can sing like a champ. So take a look at Will Stone killing it in these two videos.

And I apologize in advance for all the not great camera work in the videos. I'll do better next time around and actually record them horizontally and everything.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Antiwave - Holiday Heart

A little mellow. A little laconic. A lot of chill. Just an easy song that you can breath easily along with. It's been potentially classified as shoegaze or trip hop and I can see that. It's got a little Portishead and a little Sneaker Pimps to it but it's not trying to be anything that it isn't. There's this life to the song that is like swinging on a swing at the park and there's that perfect mix of sunshine and breeziness happening. You kind of have to squint because the sun is in your eyes and you're not swinging hard just kind of hanging out on the swing going back and forth just being. It's the ease of the song that makes it so approachable. You end up closing your eyes and going with it. Lazy river floating through it all on an inner tube. No sense of urgency, just existing.

There's a melancholic twinge of remembrance to it as well. Heather Baker, vocalist, says the song “is inspired by the overwhelming feeling I think we all encounter that the past was filled with good times or was easier. This leads to the direct or indirect selective remembrance of moments in our lives. Yet we are products of the great pain and pleasure we endure, whether we know it or not.” And that message totally comes through in the way the song is built. It's just languid and breathy. I really dig this track and Heather's vocals are amazing. I look forward to seeing where they go from here.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Kimbra - Sweet Relief

It's new, it's fresh but in the same breath; it's familiar and nostalgic. It's funky and it's all Kimbra.... without a doubt you know it's her. You know she's a mastermind and you know that she's insanely talented and it's crazy to think that she's not a freaking superstar. She challenges conventions and she does things by her own rules. She makes the music she wants to hear and it's poppy and funky and creative and all the things you want the music to be. I dig Kimbra. Have for a very long time and love to see her grow and continue pursuing music as she feels she should.